Confetti rained in the lobby of Alter Hall as a crowd burst into applause yesterday when the ribbon was officially cut on the new, $80 million home of the Fox School of Business.
The day was packed with guided tours, a student exhibit fair and a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 217,000 square-foot building located on the corner of Montgomery Avenue and Liacouras Walk.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was hosted by Steve Cordasco, a Fox School of Business alumnus and member of the Fox Board of Visitors, and host of Big Money on Big Talker 1210 AM.
“The opening of Alter Hall is nothing less than a transformational event in the history of the university and the Fox School of Business, and today, we celebrate our collective achievement with individuals who played pivotal roles in bringing about this building,” Cordasco said.
“These are exciting times for Temple and the Fox School of Business. Progress abounds, a fact so clearly reflected in every inch of this spectacular building,” he added. “I’ve chosen to stay involved as a graduate because this is one dynamic school with one outstanding dean who knows how to pull people together and get the job done. It makes us all proud to be a part of Temple University.”
Speakers included Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat, President Ann Weaver Hart, Board of Trustees Chairman Daniel Polett, Trustee and Fox Board of Visitors Chairman Richard Fox, men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy and the building’s namesake, Dennis Alter.
Alter, who graduated from Temple in 1966 and serves as a member of the Fox Board of Visitors, is also chairman and CEO of Advanta Corporation. He and his wife, Gisela Alter, donated more than $15 million for the construction of the building.
“I first joined Temple University when this was a dirt lot, and there was a wonderful, hopeful sign – ‘The future home of the Dennis and Gisela Alter building for the Fox School of Business and Management,’” Hart said. “And it’s here, and when I look back at that wonderful, wonderful hole in the ground that came next, it’s hard to imagine that this was only two years ago when we put a shovel in the ground.
“We’ve held a number of very exciting transition ceremonies from a ground-breaking to a steel top-off, and now, we’re here to celebrate our ribbon-cutting,” she said. “It’s hard to imagine how much this building has contributed to the whole spirit of and tenor of Temple University.”
The state-of-the-art facility contains more than 200 pieces of art by local artists, a 177-foot elliptical ticker – the longest at a U.S. business school, – an indoor mural by the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, a kinetic flag sculpture and a 6,400-pound revolving stone-and-water globe sculpture, in addition to several smart classrooms and abounding technology.
“The vision of the Fox School is to become the best public urban business school in the country and to be ranked among the best business schools in the world,” Porat said. “I know that it will take some more work to make it happen, but Alter Hall will certainly be an enabler in achieving this vision. Alter Hall represents a historic transformation that will affect students, faculty, staff and alumni for generations. [It] is one of the most sophisticated business school facilities in the nation.
“Its design is tailored to the needs of students and faculty, and its advanced technology mirrors the real world of business,” he said. “It also reflects in its design of classrooms and other spaces the major themes that have been driving our mission: globalization, information technology, entrepreneurship and innovation and faculty and students’ collaboration.”
Porat said it started with a dream in 1999 with Vice Dean Rajan Chandran, Associate Dean Diana Breslin Knudsen and Associate Dean John DeAngelo. He dubbed them the “dream team” who “shepherded [Alter Hall] from its conception to its completion today in every respect.”
Porat noted that the four “dream team” members represent more than 125 years of “commitment to Temple University and its mission.”
“Today, the Fox School celebrates a new era of excellence,” Porat said. “It is a big moment for me personally and a dream come true.”
“This great building is a wonderful symbol of Temple University’s commitment to excellence in business education,” Polett said. “Our students now have access to advanced technology, new learning tools and spaces for intense study and collaboration.”
Alter, the closing speaker, gave a humble and humorous speech.
“It’s daunting, a little embarrassing, to sit up here and have all of you say so many kind things about me and what we’ve tried to do. I’m a little overwhelmed. But if you could, run through that one more time,” Alter joked.
Alter told the audience several personal anecdotes about his educational experience at Temple in an attempt to explain why he and his wife chose to donate $15 million to the construction of the building.
“I learned from him that you teach by encouraging,” Alter said of a former basketball coach. “Hopefully, this building will allow tens of thousands of others to learn and aspire, not necessarily always achieving what they started out to do but being given an opportunity and the encouragement to do so.”
Kathryn A. López can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.